There was a time, before the development of our current monetary system, when forming one’s precious metals into wearable forms was simply a matter of function. In terms of keeping one’s wealth close at hand, a ring is quite literally impossible to beat. For those who travelled great distances, or required large amounts of precious metals to conduct business, wearing one’s wealth was a simple matter of function and safety.
From this tradition came the concept of wearing one’s wealth not as a matter of safety, but as a method of establishing one’s status. Those who would afford to literally construct pieces of fashion from their wealth were clearly well-off, and boasting such information led to a sense of pride in times when such things were not as readily evident. In fact, it has been noted that some societies – mostly those of medieval Europe – actually set into law that only men of wealth were allowed to wear jewelry, so that those who were not as well off would not fall victim to the temptation of sacrificing necessities in order to appear well off.
But even in this rich history of men’s rings, none were what we could consider a traditional wedding ring. In fact, only women wore wedding rings for the vast majority of human history, most often as a sign of possession, meaning that they were unavailable to other suitors. It was not until World War One that many soldiers chose to begin wearing a wedding ring as a sign of commitment to the wives they had left home. Of course, the idea has caught on quite well, with the majority of married men today choosing to express their commitment with the wearing of a simple band.
From the dawn of fashion until modern times, the history of men’s rings is a long and storied one. For an item which is most often seen as simple fashion accessory, a man’s ring can tell us quite a bit about not only where we’ve been, but also where we’re going.
For men's rings, however, the challenge becomes daunting when one considers that the pieces designed for the average man should be unique, balanced, and well-constructed, but without nearly the same level of attention-grabbing power. To use a sports analogy, designers of rings for men are not able to swing for the fences when it comes to design. The modern man demands a ring that is strong, with clean lines and not too much flash, but one that is also different, making a statement about its wearer.
For this reason, designers of men's rings have begun to play with different metals, from white gold to cobalt. This allows a fairly traditional band to stand out from the crowd without screaming for attention. Various widths and stone settings are now also being brought to the modern market, with varying levels of success. In many senses, the market for men’s jewelry is in a wild-west sort of phase. Modern men are beginning to embrace the notion of accessories, but there is no clear sense of what the market demands, leaving the door open for any and every would-be innovator to try their hand at capturing lightning in a bottle, so to speak.
Source: Flickr's chadiyo
Of course, there have also been periods when this mentality took a back seat. Throughout the nineteen sixties and seventies, it appeared as of men’s jewelry would be a permanent fixture in the fashion scene, as the bangle hippie style gave way to the modern wave of the disco era. Although there are still remnants of this style to be found in the modern landscape, it is rare to see a piece from this era that has truly withstood the test of time.
Instead, modern makers of men’s designer jewelry are now turning to bygone eras as a source of inspiration for modern pieces. Today’s designs tend to be slightly more understated, designed to contribute to a total product rather than purposely constructing each individual piece to be a show stopper. There are still elements of both the bold strength of the seventies and the layered eclectic feel of the sixties, but they tend to fold into a total sense of style rather than jumping out and screaming for attention.
In the modern world of design, jewelry makers have begun to carve out the middle ground between cyclical fashion trends and boring staples to construct a range of jewelry from which men can create a look that is well put together (without cranking the volume up so high that it becomes a distraction). As with much of modern men’s fashion, the emphasis is now on the end consumer to select pieces that make a statement without looking costumed and overdone.
Men have begun to indulge in one of the few areas that has been traditionally off-limit to them in the wedding process: the embracing of luxury. Men’s rings are the perfect example of how the doors have opened to a new definition of style—one that was once reserved exclusively for the fairer sex.
It is not that men have begun to embrace the flamboyance of being heavily accessorized, but rather that more makers of fine jewellery have started to understand what the average man is looking for when it comes to personal style. Simply put, men like it simple. The average man has always been more than willing to shell out a few extra dollars in order to ensure that a product is of the utmost quality. But in the past, there were very few options beyond the norm to choose from (think simple gold, white gold, or silver). Men were buying wedding bands cut from the exact same materials, in the same style. The only choice that existed was between brands. There was no choice, leaving a man with very few options.
Today, the makers of luxury men’s rings have begun to shape their product to the market that they serve. Simple, elegant designs that are both understated and unique are beginning to pop up, and men across the world have begun to embrace their appeal. From simple ridges to engravings, the emphasis on style and simplicity has garnered a very large following in a short period of time.
Industrial-inspired material selections, like as cobalt and tungsten, have opened the door to a whole new aspect of jewellery making. The durability and strength of these materials means that even men working in industries that typically do not favour the wearing of jewellery now have the option of wearing luxury men’s rings without the fear of damaging or destroying the piece.
The makers of fine jewellery have opened to the door to a very wide portion of the market that, until now, has proven difficult to crack. And as more and more men begin to embrace the notion of wearing simple, daily pieces, the market is sure to continue upon its impressive growth trajectory.
Source: Flickr's kevindean
From multiple bracelets in a combination of sizes, materials, and colours all the way to individual stand out pieces (think an oversized men’s ring), style hounds have been clamouring to the makeshift-urban style that was perfected in the mid-seventies and re-invented in recent years by the likes of Johnny Depp and James Franco, among others.
The look is at once unkempt and overdone, with simple individual pieces coming together for an organic, eclectic totality. The real secret is to ensure that the combination of individual pieces mean something, with each holding a certain type of charm and appeal. While it might be tempting to stop in at a cheap accessory booth, load up on a bag full of costume jewellery and just start layering away, the real secret is in making the style your own. Without the confidence and comfort that come with wearing something that is truly you, one risks having their accessories wear them--as opposed to vice versa. It doesn’t take much for a person to become lost behind a curtain of store-bought plastic.
Instead, start with one absolutely killer piece and work your way out from there. For example, consider one of a stylish tungsten or cobalt men’s ring (they have popping up amongst high-end jewellers in recent years), or that incredible vintage leather bracelet you found in a thrift shop, but haven’t had the guts to wear out yet. Start with a piece you absolutely love, and start building from there, allowing your own personality and style to shine through.
As with any style choice, the secret to making it work is to make it your own. All of the on-point fashion choices in the world cannot overcome a person who lacks certainty. Regardless of what your personal style happens to be, remember that there is absolutely no substitute for the ultimate fashion accessory--confidence.
Source: Flickr's Lord_Henry
For the most part, designer rings for the modern man reflect a certain element of timelessness. The most sought after pieces are not overly elaborate, but instead rely upon subtlety and clean lines. Particularly for men who choose to wear more than one piece of jewellery, or for those who take pride in their style choices, it can be quite easy to overdo the detailing, leading to a confused look that appears busy and patch-worked. One of the most important secrets to maintaining classic style is to use subtle elements that contribute to the total effect as a whole. Remember that no piece of jewellery should be so noticeable that it becomes a distraction.
Whether it is a wedding band or simply a decorative piece, traditional metals such as gold, white gold, and silver remain among the most popular choices for the modern man. They tend to be timeless in their presentation, and also hold their value exceptionally well. But there is also a new school of thought in the world of designer rings, one that embraces the modern development of new metals such as cobalt and tungsten. These materials tend to be significantly stronger and more rigid than the softer precious metals, but can be shaped to create pieces that represent a completely different approach to men’s jewellery altogether.
For example: Cobalt can be highly polished, buffing it to a near mirror-like appearance that closely resembles white gold, but its rigid composition makes it significantly more difficult to damage or tarnish. Tungsten carbide is even tougher, and tends to be a little more flat in its appearance, giving the finish an industrial look. For those who prefer to be on the cutting edge, or for those who spend a good deal of time working with their hands, these metals are quickly becoming the new industry standard.
In the past, the simple truth was that very few pieces of men’s jewellery truly could stand the test of time. Fortunately, times are changing, allowing for the creation of jewellery that is capable of lasting a lifetime.
The layering of rings, bracelets, and pendants that were once unheard of outside of the hippie culture in North America is catching on in a very big way. Of course, there are also those who refuse any type of accessory whatsoever, preferring the traditional North American approach of ‘less is more’. With a newfound access to an entire world’s worth of inspiration, men have begun to carve out their own personal style niches like never before. We have begun to embrace men’s fashion, jewellery, footwear, and other elements of personal expression.
As the world’s marketplace continues to shrink in the face of globalization, the simple fact of the matter is that the days of just finding out what is in style--and then purchasing those items--is long gone. The emphasis is now upon making a personal statement, expressing one’s inner sense of style, and feeling comfortable with whatever forms of dress appeal to you personally. The rules have been thrown to the wind, and to be perfectly blunt…it’s about time.
Old School Style.
Source: Pinterest, History.
In many cases, it is the pop icons of a given time period that most accurately reflect society’s preferences at that particular moment in time…and it doesn’t take more than one glance at today’s top celebrities to understand why we are now living in a time of exceptional personal freedoms in terms of style and presentation. From the gritty alpha males who don uniforms consisting of little more than jeans and t-shirts, to stylistic icons who layer both clothing and jewellery to create a bohemian mish-mash of eclectic pieces, the rules for accessorizing have never been more lax than they are in our modern culture.
With this new-found sense of personal freedom comes a wide range of stimulating and eye-catching style choices, many of which shatter previous conceptions of how masculinity must present itself. Top athletes have started to dress well beyond their athletic wear comfort zone, and are piling on interest pieces to match. From something as simple as men’s rings, to gauged earrings, and timepieces which double as status symbols, modern men have found a new voice in their accessorization.
As technology continues to open the doors to new cultural perspectives, more and more men are beginning to discover that the standards that they grew up with simply no longer apply. What is acceptable on the streets of Delhi is now acceptable on the streets of Delaware…and modern men have been quick to embrace this new sense of worldliness and freedom. The question is no longer ‘what is in style’, but rather, ‘what is my personal style?’
From one simple gold band to two men’s rings on each finger, anything goes in today’s concept of fashion. The real secret is no longer figuring out what all the cool people are wearing and then buying it, but rather figuring out what suits you best, and then making it cool.
There was a time not long ago when the average man did not wear much jewellery--items like designer rings, bracelets, and most other pieces were reserved almost exclusively for the fairer sex. In fact, it can be quite easy for modern men to get caught up the ‘old boys’ mentality, a train of thought that believes that the improvement of one’s appearance is not the kind of thing upon which a man should not spend much time.
But the truth is, just like every other method of self-expression, the wearing of jewellery by both men and women has been nothing if not cyclical in nature. There have been many points throughout the history of many societies during which the wearing of items as status symbols was perceived to be the absolute peak of masculinity. From kings and sultans to privateers and scoundrels, there has been no shortage of bejewelled alpha males through the course of history.
So then, what is the modern man to do?
Truthfully…whatever he pleases. Perhaps the most awe-inspiring aspect of the times in which we live is the fact that nearly all corners of the globe have begun to share their traditions and rich histories for the very first time. Technology has allowed us to delve headlong into vastly different cultures, picking and choosing from amongst a wide variety of style options to create sense of style that is as unique as the individual who created it.
To be certain, there are some men within today’s society who would still prefer not to wear much in the way of jewellery, but there is also a contingent just as large who would prefer to combine several pieces at once; from designer rings to multiple bracelets, and anything else that might spark their interest. There is something to be said for those who prefer the ‘less is more’ mentality, but there are also very few men in the world who would argue the masculinity of someone like Johnny Depp, whose preference for designer rings, pendants, and sunglasses is bordering on notorious.
The fact of the matter is that we now live in a time when the standards of fashion are nearly as wide open as our own imaginations. Modern men have the luxury of picking and choosing their personal style from across all cultures, and all time periods. Now, more so than ever, personal expression is actually about outwardly expressing one’s most personal self.
You’ve got to think about your budget, level of comfort and your personal style. Consider the following:
Answering these questions can help you narrow down your list of stylish wedding bands. These questions can help you determine the style of the ring that you need to best suit the demands of your own lifestyle.
Now, you have to figure out the metal that fits your personal taste. Many men choose a ring that matches the ring of their fiancée, but this isn’t a rule. Sometimes it is best to choose a stylish wedding band that is more in line with what you personally prefer (after all, you are the one that has to wear the ring everyday). If you have any allergies to certain metals, this can also be an issue. The most common metals used are:
Of course, each metal has its own specific qualities. For instance, gold can greatly differ in color (white gold, yellow gold, rose gold) and karats. While titanium and tungsten are both incredibly durable metals, they cannot be resized, and so must be cut very carefully.
Whatever you do end up choosing for your wedding band, take the time to ensure sure that you’re happy with your choice. Your wedding band is with you forever, so take the time to make the right decision.